On Sunday, May 23rd, our church hosted a powerful evening of learning about First Nations and the Church with Jodi Spargur. Five days later, we were met by horrific news: the discovery of 215 children buried next to the Residential school in Kamloops. A school run by people who wore the cross.
Our hearts should rightly grieve over this terrible news. The compassion and justice of Jesus calls for no less.
On the evening of learning, Jodi suggested that our first step is to learn. And she instructed that our education should begin by reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action, paying particular attention to articles 58 to 61. These represent the specific asks of the First Nations people to the Church who stand among the accused.
The articles are attached at this link: https://nctr.ca/records/reports/
58.We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
59.We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.
60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy any staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.
61. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:
i. Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.
ii. Community-controlled culture - and language - revitalization projects.
iii. Community-controlled education and relationship-building projects.
iv. Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.